Interview continued 6

c.c. Who else?

g.d. Are you kidding?

c.c. What about GYNAEKAPHOBIA, I read that as a fear of women.

g.d. It was originally called WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A WOMAN’S FACE. The frontispiece of a book on geometry in art 27 showed a young woman’s face overlaid with a linear analysis: Sex and geometry. It’s powerful, it hints at bondage, restraint and control. I just amplified the idea by going through one of those bogus between the wars books and re photographed 100 different faces of women from around the world and drew the grids on top. I had always been attracted to proportional drawings of Egyptian gods, buddhas…

c.c. …cannons, devices to control image making.

g.d. Women friends told me that they read it as sadistic, voyeristic. They told me that I was trying to control them, which meant that I was really frightened of them.

cc. So you changed the title.

g.d. Yeah, I realised that the original title was horribly glib. I’d made it lightheartedly, one model had been Hogarth’s Analysis of Beauty print…

c.c. …17?

g.d. …50’s.

c.c. And this was now, or rather late 1970’s. Another piece with prints of women was RESSURECTION.

g.d. That was O.K.

c.c. How come?

g.d. I’d always thought how phoney those photos of people from far away places looked in those British books, stagey backdrops. You could see their wristwatches sometimes, you knew it was a scam. If the women were portrayed as primitive you could show their tits. Also they were printed crudely on cheap paper.

c.c. “People’s of the British Empire in National Costume”.

g.d. That sort of thing 28. I wanted to reverse the process, give them back their dignity. So I deliberately tore the pages from the book and painted over the backgrounds with scenes from my house, as though they were my guests.

c.c. Are you sure that you were not guilty of just re-doing again what had originally been done to them? We should leave other people alone.

g.d. O.K. I take your point but remember we’re are not talking people flesh and blood, but furry little dots of black ink made from carbon and glue.

c.c. One of the things you had always done was to take from lots of sources. What happens quite quickly is that you’re taking things that are loaded with meaning from all sorts of cultures. It’s all very well to regard anything to do with Stonehenge or Avebury or somewhere as ‘our culture’ but it simply isn’t ours. They are cultures that we know very little about.

g.d. But at least we are near it physically.

c.c. I have known Avebury since I was a teenager and I love it, but I don’t know how much it’s mine.

g.d. No, I don’t agree. Stonehenge must be site-specific, it relates to what you can see from that point on the planet.

c.c. But the people who made it might have come from somewhere else, not be local.

g.d. Like another planet?

c.c. You’re nothing but an unreconstructed hippy.

g.d. I was never a hippy, although I am very interested in Indian Painting, I don’t want to go to India particularly. People are always saying to me you can’t understand it unless you go there, see the life, how people live. Well maybe they are right. But at least Stonehenge has had the same night and day cycle as me, had it a little longer, but that’s what I mean about being connected.

c.c. I don’t feel attached to Roman culture either, which was here for as long and afterwards. I assume that most Romans that were here were not Italian at all. They would have been Gauls who’d become Romanized and then a certain integration process occured. It’s also a culture that encompasses religions into its own pantheon of Gods in order to do the other kind of imperialism.

g.d. What about Roman drawings. Think of their architecture, the Colisseum, the Pantheon, how could they be built without drawings or plans all those curves within curves?

27 The Geometry of Art & Life. Matila Ghyka. Sheed & Ward. U.S.A. 1946
28 The living Races of Mankind. Hutchinson & Co. Undated.

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